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Children's Village is a kids' place

September 14, 2007

At Children's Village of Washington County, second-graders learn about 911, "Stranger Danger" and fire safety.

The safety education complex, at 1546 Mount Aetna Road in Hagerstown, was established in 1991 as a not-for-profit safety education organization. While not a part of Washington County Public Schools, Children's Village receives bus transportation and curriculum support.

Every second-grade student in the county spends two days of the school year at the center - one day on police safety issues, the on fire safety.

Rochelle Morrell, Children's Village executive director, said the fire portion of the program has been made available to second-graders in Greencastle, Pa., and Waynesboro, Pa., public schools. Columbia Gas is sponsoring the out-of-county fees for those Pennsylvania students.

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Morrell said she knows of 20 cases since the facility opened "where children have used skills learned here to help themselves in emergency situations."

Children ride in battery-powered cars through a miniature village to practice road rules. They also learn about the importance of smoke detectors and fire escape routes and the dangers of fire. A Hagerstown Police Department officer typically spends a day with the students for the police safety portion of the class.

Classes are provided at no charge to Washington County children taught in private and church schools, as well as for those taught at home.

Financial support for the program comes in the form of grants, private donations, foundations, contributions from Washington County and the gaming commission. Fundraisers also are held.

The phone number is 301-733-4443.

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